I finally went to see the new “Cinderella” movie the other day (now a few weeks ago). I have a secret (or maybe not-so-secret) love of fairytales, happy endings, magic and beautiful ball dresses. And the movie was everything people have been saying it is – innocent, lovely, bright and poignant. The colours were great, Ella’s childhood and parents were wonderful and bright, Ella herself is lovely – kind, compassionate, cheerful, generous, and wise. And she has great hair. The prince is dashing and princely, but also genuine and trying to find his way. The fairy godmother is funny and generous, and there are all the dastardly characters to be overcome. And there is the most amazing dance – you have to watch it to understand. Most of all, there is the theme of the whole story, almost the last thing that Cinderella’s mother tells her before she dies: Have courage, and be kind. Cinderella tries to live by that the rest of the story, although at one point she stops believing and feels unable to go on living by it. Then, of course, her fairy godmother appears.
So I loved the movie, I loved the music, and most especially I loved that theme: Have courage and be kind. But as usual after a glimpse of beauty and goodness brought to life, I felt keenly and starkly the difference it highlighted between that and my reality. I’m not like Ella – I didn’t have such a gloriously happy childhood, or feel so secure and loved; I operate on a different foundation. Kindness is not my default setting, and although compassion and empathy are inherent parts of my nature, I too often feel them as burdens or deflect them and allow other feelings to take precedence and fail to act on those gentler feelings. I’m not young and pretty and innocent, and I live in a world where life is generally mundane and regular. In short, I want to have courage and be kind, but most of the time I harbour fear and am self-focused. So seeing something like that – people I want to be like and a place of such beauty – brings with it a fair amount of heart-rending afterwards. Which is a little embarrassing to admit, because most people probably think, “well, of course it’s not real; it’s a fairytale; enjoy it and leave it at that!” I know, I know. One of those ‘burdens’ of empathy that I was talking about is feeling things like this intensely; you’ll also notice that my blogger name is “Idealist-at-large”! So. My point in sharing these slightly-embarrassing details is that I do in fact know most of the answers to my dilemma, but also that I’ve still been wondering how to reconcile the me-here and the me-there: the person I actually want to be, and see glimpses of in stories like this. And how to dance that waltz…! I’ve found a few answers, and then I came across this talk today, given by Patricia Holland in 1987. It’s excellent – no wonder she and Elder Holland got married; they have that awesome similarity of purpose. She, too, is a powerful speaker/writer, with passion, conviction and truth. It’s a talk for mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends – anyone who is a woman.